CINCINNATI -- If the real football doesn't start until the players put on their full pads, consider Monday the "unofficial" start of training camp for the Cincinnati Bengals.
"Everybody can run fast when you have shorts on," said Bengals receiver Brandon LaFell. "When you've got pads on ... you've got to beat the press, you've got to beat this, beat that, get banged on this route. ...
"It's real football now. It's full pads. It's a lot of banging. It's real football."
Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict apparently took that to heart, putting together some of his best plays of camp.
Burfict got into the backfield several times. On one play during team drills, Burfict came up the middle, quickly shed a block by tight end Cethan Carter to meet running back Joe Mixon behind the line of scrimmage. On another play, Burfict came around the tackle to stop Tra Carson for a loss.
"He's taken a step forward with his conditioning and being a good example for the younger guys," defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said of Burfict. "He's got all those traits in him. ...
"He's just come back with the whole package this year."
Mixon also had another nice day, which was capped off by a touchdown run of about 75 yards. Mixon took advantage of a large hole opened for him by the offensive line and dodged safety Clayton Fejedelem, who gave chase as Mixon darted down the sidelines.
Andre Smith sits out: Bengals offensive lineman Andre Smith missed his first practice of training camp on Monday. Smith, 30, did conditioning work off to the side and was replaced by Trey Hopkins at right guard during team drills.
Smith has spent most of the summer at right guard, a position he has never played, but spent one day during training camp working at right tackle with the second team unit. Hopkins got first team reps at right guard that day.
Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander said Smith was working through an injury and should be back Tuesday. Although Smith appeared winded at times during Friday's practice, Alexander said he was pleased with Smith's conditioning.
Smith is listed at 330 pounds on the Bengals' roster.
"He's light, he looks good. Well, relatively, "Alexander said laughing. "It's the best he's been. He's in shape and he's running around. Physically he looks real good. It's just, you know, he's got some years on his tires. He's got to rest up a little bit and he'll go tomorrow."
Hopkins signed with the Bengals in 2014 as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Texas. He has spent three seasons on the Bengals' practice squad or injured reserve, with one game appearance last year.
Hopkins has worked at several positions on the offensive line this summer.
"Hopkins is having a terrific camp and I think he is, at least, going to be one of our first guys coming off the bench," Alexander said. "Or he, you never know, he may crack the unit. He's playing that well."
Other injuries: George Iloka and Derron Smith both missed practice after leaving early with injuries on Sunday. ... Michael Johnson did not practice for the third straight day. ... Giovani Bernard got a rest day. ... Jake Kumerow remained out with an ankle injury. ...Cedric Peerman and Brandon Wilson remain on the non-football injury list and worked on the rehab field. ... Cornerback Tony McRae hobbled off the field during special teams work and remained there with ice on his thigh. ... AJ McCarron was excused from practice for family reasons.
Transactions: The Bengals waived kicker Jonathan Brown to make room for safety Cedric Thompson. Thompson got a rude awakening to the NFL when Andy Dalton hit LaFell in stride deep downfield. Thompson could only give chase.
Kicking update: With Brown waived, the kicking competition is now down to Randy Bullock and Jake Elliott. Elliott had his first official miss of camp on Monday from 40 yards. He was good from 35, 42 and 44 yards, while Bullock did not kick Monday. Elliott missed a 33-yarder on Sunday, but the Bengals don't count it as a miss because they were working on distraction plays, blowing the whistle during Bullock and Elliott's kicks as a way of teaching them to kick through the whistle.
Bullock is now 7-for-7 and Elliott is 6-for-7 during camp.